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Assessment 7 Learning Reflection Journal
In determining the set of guidelines, rules, and principles to utilize in the course of business activity in an industry, it will be extremely difficult to reach consensus due to the complexity involved when dealing with the human nature. As a result, the field of business ethics has essentially strived to propose a theoretical framework that can handle the ethical problems that arise within the business environment. However, one should not be confused by the meaning of ethical theory and morality. In essence, morality deals with the principles of judgment between right and wrong. Understanding the complex human nature is crucial in the application of the appropriate ethical theory in business settings. However, the learning environment and the mode of learning influence the development of ethics in the business environment. Throughout the course, interactive learning process has increased my understanding of ethical theories and revealed how they influence the moral judgment in the business setting (Pojman & Fieser 2010).
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that strives to identify answers to such moral concepts as right, wrong, good, or evil. According to Pojman & Fieser (2010), ethics entails the moral philosophy concerned with right and wrong, fair and unfair, obligatory and permissible, responsible and irresponsible, to mention a few. Though numerous scholars have linked ethics with different emotions and feelings, such as indignation and empathy, ethics focuses on the ways public policies are generalized or personalized. Furthermore, it is usually based on the law, social practices, conscience, and religious views. Social practices give the philosophy a lot of strength.
In the course of the study I have realized that many companies have begun to accord their practices to business ethics and have started giving the corporate social responsibility the attention it deserves (Banerjee 2008). Many businesses in the world have gained reputable recognition by adopting appropriate ethical principles in their business activities. Furthermore, others have lost their reputation as a result of failing to uphold the acceptable business ethics. Many firms view business as an economic activity of maximizing the profits. There is nothing wrong with money itself; however, the way how business acquires money and profits matters a lot because some means tend to raise ethical questions (Banerjee 2008).
Ethical principles emphasize the need for entrepreneurs to follow business ethics in the course of business operations. During this course I have realized that the appropriate ethical principles are crucial to business success and efficiency. For instance, there are numerous global entities that provide certain products to the public for specialized or generalized use. However, the engagement in bad business practices has resulted in hefty fines for the firms which failed to adhere to the established business and ethical standards. Consequently, this has resulted in the development of negative reputation that influences the stakeholder and customer perception of the firms. Nonetheless, businesses often continue engaging in unethical business activities because the generated profit margins are usually higher than the imposed fines. As a result, profits overshadow the opportunity cost, and businesses willingly pay fines.
In order to stop and prevent such business practices, it is necessary for the authorities to enforce the implementation of business ethics in all firms and units. Appropriate business ethics eliminates such issues as workforce exploitation and low wages among the employees. It is apparent that being a person with high moral and ethical values is essential not only in modern business. It is important for firms to understand the importance of the relationship that exists between the legal aspect of the firm and the decision making related to business ethics.
Through the semester readings I have conceptualized the ideas about how companies formerly perceived the ethical issues that related to the administration of regulations and rules in ensuring that people adhere to the established organizational standards. However, nowadays the concept is no longer implemented because the modern business owners have realized that the concept is far more superior. Furthermore, I have learned that a wide range of issues that relate to business ethics are evident in the market. For instance, according to the business report published by Energy Saving website in United Kingdom, there are many fields listed under the head of ethical issues in the business setting. The issues are of varying nature ranging from professional occupations ethics to the employee rights issues that relate to the wages and working conditions. I have also learnt that functional field of business, such as accounting, management, and marketing, also experience ethical issues.
In the course of analyzing ethical issues affecting the businesses, I have realized that it is usually difficult to infer whether a company adheres to the established ethical principles due to the varying nature of issues. In the modern business environment justice, fairness, and honesty have been posing a complex and integrated dilemma to business operations. Furthermore, many biased decisions influence the goodwill of business activities, as well as the market functions of a company. In order to deal with the issue, I have realized that most companies implement and follow ethical guidelines in order to sustain the essential value of fairness in their businesses. Nonetheless, when a business chooses profitability and legality as the means of judgment between wrong and right, ethics becomes irrelevant.
Throughout the learning period I have been able to learn and conceptualize some crucial theories that explain the issues of business ethics. These theories provide a framework that enables a business manager to evaluate the organizational activities in order to determine the level of compliance with ethical principles. One of the theories is utilitarianism, which is one of the most acceptable ethical theories in both business and academic setting (Anderson 2004). According to the theory, it is morally right to undertake a business activity if the positive outcomes outweigh the negative ones. In other words, the consequences of such activities have to yield the great amount of good to more people. Utilitarianism has been regarded by many as the principle of greatest happiness because it focuses on the extent of the well-being resulted from an activity relative to the detriments. The theory focuses on weighing the bad actions against the good or acceptable ones; thus, promoting the action which is in the best interests of people. The fundamental goal of utilitarianism is to increase the pleasure and reduce the pain (Pojman & Fieser 2010).
Furthermore, I have conceptualized that the theory insists that an action is acceptable on the basis of its effects to the majority of people. This implies that a business activity is ethically permissible when its outcome is more positive than negative. This school of thought has been championed by the prominent philosophers – John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. Utilitarianism accentuates that business actions should be evaluated on the basis of established rules and principles and should result in the greatest usefulness to a large number of people (Anderson 2004). Indeed, the principles of utilitarianism are contrary to the deontological ethics, because utilitarian ethics allows the compromise during the determination of the morality stand. In the business field, it is evident that business tools, such as risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis, are entirely depended on utilitarianism for decision making purposes (Anderson 2004). However, an argument regarding the principle of greatest happiness resulting from the theory is vague because it is quite difficult to measure and quantify the units of happiness in assessing whether a business activity will essentially lead to the greatest good.
According to the Kantian deontology, an action is considered ethical when accepted as a universal law by individuals. It is understandable that the theory emphasizes that morality needs to follow the established set of regulations without exclusions (Geirsson & Holmgren 2010). In the business environment, the Kantianism believes that an individual remains bound to the given set of the maxim in order to assess whether his or her actions are appropriate or inappropriate. However, in course of learning and conceptualizing the theory, I have leant that, according to Kant, there are no moral solutions when a person’s duties and rights intersect.
In conclusion, it is evident that implementation of appropriate ethical principles is crucial to the operation of a business. Business ethics enables businesses to realize high profit margins without compromising the fundamental established codes of ethics governing business operations. It is also evident that ethical implications in business are usually of high importance, and it is inevitable in business due to its influence on business activities. A firm that operates in an ethical manner attracts a large number of customers, thus expanding its business influence. As a student, I realized that understand ethical issues surrounding business processes is an essential skill. Through the enquiry-based learning method it has been possible to conceptualize the key aspects of the course that enhance individual understanding of the course material. This shapes an individual capability to apply appropriate ethical theories and moral arguments in making respective business decisions.
Anderson 2004, ‘Utilitarianism: the greatest good for the greatest number’, Probe, viewed 28 November 2013, <http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4224805/>.
Banerjee, S 2008, ‘Corporate social responsibility: the good, the bad and the ugly’, Critical Sociology, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 51-79.
Geirsson, H & Holmgren, M 2010, Ethical theory: a concise anthology, Broadview Press, Peterborough, Ont.
Pojman, L & Fieser, J 2010, Ethical theory: classical and contemporary readings, Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, Australia.